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Neova starts production of animal feed materials for Hankkija in Ilomantsi

Neova and Hankkija have signed an agreement, according to which Neova will start manufacturing peat-based products suitable for animal feed for Hankkija. Manufacture of products made from peat of special quality is planned to start on a pilot scale this year at the Neova production plant located in Ilomantsi. The feed business pilot is one of Neova’s new high value-added peat biomass product development projects. Since 2019, one product development area has been the use of peat in animal feeds. Hankkija has been a product development partner in the project since 2022.

Several studies have found that peat and humic substances it contains support animal welfare and growth. The positive effects of peat on animal welfare have been known for a long time in bedding peat use, and they have also been verified in feed use. In product development, it has been possible to identify the optimal peat quality that is particularly suitable for feed use. Feeding experiments carried out by Neova and partners have provided convincing evidence of the suitability of peat selected on the basis of precise quality criteria for feed use, especially as pellets for piglets. The purpose of environmental enrichment of peat pellets is to provide pigs with meaningful activities and satisfy their natural need to root. Since the environmental enrichment pellets are intended to be eaten by the animals, the beneficial substances in peat end up in the animal’s intestines. In feeding trials, the use of environmental enrichment peat pellets for piglets in weaning has been shown to improve the growth of piglets and reduce weaning diarrhea. In addition, peat pellets support animal welfare, for example, by reducing tail biting. With a reduction in tail bite and weaning diarrhea, the need for medication is reduced.

According to Business Area Director Mia Suominen, responsible for the product development of Neova’s new high value-added products, the start of the production of feed materials is the main opening for Neova’s feed business. “There is a demand on the market for a product that works well in tests and has no harmful side effects. Especially when the new product supports animal welfare and improves the profitability of livestock production. The economic perspective is very important in a sector facing huge challenges in adapting to the pressures of economic change”.

There are over one million pigs in Finland, which is less than 1% of the entire European market. In the early years of production, the target market is Finland, and as production expands, the market area expands to other Nordic countries and Central Europe. The intention is to expand the product’s sales in the future not only to piglet feed but also to other animals, such as broilers “The feed pilot production at the Ilomantsi pellet plant, which is now starting, will cover the years 2024 and 2025. If market demand matches expectations, Neova is prepared to expand feed production,” Suominen continues.

The peat selected for feed use is a pure, prebiotic, i.e. natural fibre product containing carbohydrates useful for gut microbes, for which there is currently a high demand in the feed market.

According to Juhani Vuorenmaa Research and Development Director in Hankkija, peat feed pellets are an interesting natural product, whose feed use benefits have already provided good research evidence. “Based on the results, we believe that it has a wide range of benefits for different animals. We look forward to further developing the product and offering it to our customers both domestically and in export markets,” Vuorenmaa says.

More about Neova Group

Neova is an international group that promotes clean and water-saving local food production and provides local fuels for markets The Neova Group also develops new products for cleaning up polluted environments, prepares wind and solar power projects and creates well-being by employing, recycling and creating comfortable living environments. The Group’s business operations are divided into Kekkilä-BVB and Neova Terra divisions.

The Kekkilä-BVB division serves professional growers, hobby gardeners and landscaping professionals through an organisation based on geographical areas. The division is also responsible for the Group’s bedding peat trade in Finland and the wholesale of horticultural peat for external customers.

The Neova Terra division is responsible for peat production in Finland, Sweden and Estonia and sales of energy peat to energy customers. The division is also responsible for the cultivation of biomasses, for example, reed canary grass needed in the manufacture of high-value products to the group’s internal customers, real estate development, energy pellet business, activated carbon business and product development and commercialisation of new products based on peatland biomass.

The Neova Group had an average of 936 employees in fiscal year 2023. In addition, the company employs hundreds of local contractors in its production and supply chains.

More about Hankkija Oy

Hankkija Oy is Finland’s leading agricultural and machinery trade. It is also the largest producer of industrial animal feed in Finland and has 52 stores as well as the largest online store in the industry.

Hankkija is also an active hobbyist shop, whose stores have a comprehensive and diverse selection of garden, horse, pet, forestry and hunting products. Hankkija employs more than 1,000 employees and the company’s turnover in 2023 was EUR 862 million.

For more information:

Neova Oy

  • Business Area Director, Mia Suominen, tel. +358 20 790 5653

Hankkija Oy

  • Research and Development Director, Juhani Vuorenmaa, tel. +358 10 402 7185

Picture: Hankkija Oy